The Corner

Re: Undocumented Investments

I greatly enjoyed reading Mark Steyn’s excoriation of my illegal immigrant tuition post from last week – it is why he gets to be known as “Mark Steyn: Seller of Tens of Thousands of Books,” and I am primarily known as “Christian Schneider: Egg Roll Enthusiast.”

At the beginning of my post, I pointed out that 86 percent of people in a recent survey disagreed with me. I am well aware of how unpopular my position would be in these here parts. In fact, in these fractured political times, both Republicans and Democrats can actually come together and agree on one incontrovertible fact: On this issue, I am an idiot. (You’re welcome, America.)

Steyn criticizes my use of the term “investment” when pointing out that it costs far more to educate an illegal immigrant child in grades K–12 than it does in college. Fair enough — it is kind of a lazy lefty euphemism, and I can do better. But I wasn’t making the point that all that spending was justifiable — it isn’t — I was merely saying that if people were bent out of shape about subsidizing illegal immigrant college tuition, then they should really be angered by all the money we spend educating these kids for their first twelve years.

And yes, I share Steyn’s skepticism over America’s fetish for getting everyone a college degree. Every kid that goes to college that probably shouldn’t depresses the value of my undergraduate degree, which it took me six hard years to earn.

The bottom line, though, is that while I agree with any plan that the “deport ’em all” crowd wants to throw out there, it just isn’t going to happen. Watch the Republican debates and enjoy all the GOP candidates talking about “securing the border,” while none of them actually deal with what to do with the illegals who are already here. They know that by angering the fastest growing demographic in America, it could relegate Republicans to the minority in perpetuity. If Democrats run America for another ten years, Steyn will be able to write another post-apocalyptic America book, only this time, he will have first-hand experience on which to draw.

Surely Steyn remembers when conservative icons like Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett opposed California Proposition 187, which would have barred illegal immigrant children from attending public schools. At the time, Bennett and Kemp argued that immigrants are “natural Republicans” who support low taxes and family values, and that California was turning the Republican party into a party of protectionism and xenophobia. Perhaps Steyn would like to remind Bennett that he’s a “satirical Rob Long invention” next time he goes on Bennett’s radio show to promote his book.

Finally, I am willing to subject myself to any “conservatism” litmus test to which Steyn would like to put before me. I’m well up over 85 columns for NRO to this point — clearly, number 86 set his beard atwitter. In order to satisfy my reconciliation requirements, I will agree to dress my six-year-old son up as Ludwig von Mises for Halloween, where he will lecture households on why just giving out free candy is bad monetary policy.

As a postscript, I should note that I paid full retail at a bookstore (remember those?) for Steyn’s book. And it is excellent.